What better week then World Breastfeeding Week to do a post on breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. This topic, as we all know, that it is a very controversial one. Sometimes it really does bring the worst out of people and I dislike that. We should all be joining and supporting each other no matter what our feeding journey may be.
I am not really sure where to start this post so how about with – Breast is best. There is no doubt about the fact that yes, breast is best. However, this does not mean it is the best for you. Breast milk contains so much goodness that we just cannot put into formula. This specific term does not mean that this is the best option for you – just like it wasn’t the best option for me.
Formula feeding is such a great alternative. We as mothers should not have to feel guilty buying it from the supermarket or giving our babies a bottle in public. It is pretty dam amazing what people can do these days, we are only going forward in life! Formula is only going to be made better and better. Truthfully, I believe they would not sell formula if it were not any good for our babies! You know, people are doing far worse things like smoking drugs while breastfeeding or abusing their children constantly but here we are still stressing and bullying mothers who are doing far less worse – formula feeding. Why do we focus on something so minor when there are definitely bigger issues going on in the world?
I will openly tell anyone who asks, I did not breastfeed. I tried, not for long but I tried. Harlee was born and she was latching perfectly. I thought I was going to have the perfect breastfeeding journey and I was stoked! However, 24 hours later that all changed. We were still latching fine but my little baby was not happy. She started getting really distressed and just shaking her head back and forth while she was trying to feed. I would have her sometimes up to an hour on each boob sucking away until she would again, start destressing herself. I was so confused as a first time mum. She latched and was supposedly, feeding but she would come off the boob and cry and cry and cry.
It turned out that I had no milk. We had one hungry baby and I could not even produce 10mls. However, the midwives ensured me it would come through really soon, I just had to keep putting her on and letting her suck to encourage my milk to come through. So, I was breastfeeding a baby while not giving her any milk at all. We were topping her up with formula at this stage because we could not let our little girl go hungry. I will point out the cool technique they used for this in maternity though – well I will try my best to explain it! I am not sure if it has a name but it is like a thin IV line tube – tiny tube so not much goes through it. I would latch Harlee on and then sneak this handy little tube into her mouth so she still thought she was exclusively on my breast. The tube ended in a tiny little pottle of formula and as Harlee would suck it would travel through the little tube and into her mouth. It tricked her into thinking she was getting breastmilk while also let us keep on going with that precious bond. I honestly thought this was such a cool idea for those first few days to try build our bond but obviously as they drink more it would become harder.
It had been two days of using the handy little tip above, while also trying to pump several times a day. I pumped and pumped and pumped and got absolutely nothing. I was lucky to get 5mls out of each boob. I also tried breastfeeding tea’s and all the other natural things to hurry it all up but nothing was working! It was getting to a point of feeling embarrassed asking for top ups of formula from certain midwives because they were so pro breastfeeding while also starting to lose my sanity being stuck in maternity. They were not willing to let me go home until feeding was sorted. My baby was not happy and I was not happy.
After a long few days and an unhappy baby I finally cracked early hours of one morning. Luckily, my amazing midwife was on and was happy to come in and talk to me. I was and am so lucky to have her. I said to her that I did not think breastfeeding was for me, I was starting to lose my sanity and I hated seeing my new baby so upset and hungry. I remember her exact words being ‘Let’s give bottle feeding a go and if it works we will toss the tits!’ Just from speaking to one person and finally speaking up about how I felt, a massive weight was lifted off my shoulders.
Ben and my family were all supportive no matter what decision I chose. Let me tell you, it was not a decision I made lightly. The pressure and guilt of having to explain to every other person why I was not breastfeeding was daunting. We all know that’s one of the first 500 questions people think is okay to ask and judge you on once you’ve had a baby. Here is the issue with this though – notice how my initial thought and worry was about the judgement I would get for not breastfeeding, not what was actually best for my baby and myself. This is the problem with society – we should not have to worry about this stuff. Becoming a new mum is hard enough as it is without stressing what everyone is thinking about your every decision.
After having a chat with everyone who mattered and having a good day bottle-feeding we decided to turn to formula also known as ‘the dark side which only mothers who don’t care about their babies choose’. I laughed as I wrote that but sadly; this is what many people think of formula feeding. I honestly question if and when my milk would come through. I had no problem when I dried up with leakage or sore boobs because I literally had no milk!
The problem is, many women think they can bad-mouth mums for not breastfeeding but then some formula feeding mums think it’s okay to bad-mouth breastfeeding mums. WHY? Why can we not all lift each other up? Yes, we are all entitled to opinions but there is no need to bully each other about it. Myself as a formula feeding mum, felt like I was constantly judged. Do not get me wrong I had many supportive people around me but the negative always seems to out-weigh the positives. We all know how hard this mum gig can get. Do you really want to be the reason of pushing a mum over the edge because you could not keep your opinion, just an opinion – you made it into a bullying tactic and you absolutely crushed that mother. Unfortunately, majority of mothers that are left crushed, are us formula feeding mums. I am not picking sides here, I am just pointing out the obvious. Formula feeding mums will always be classed in a different category to breastfeeding mums. Formula feeding mums cop so much crap from doctors, nurses, midwives, friends, family and even strangers – it is mentally really hard. Breastfeeding mums cop backlash from formula feeding mums and that is it – everyone else praises them for doing the right thing. I am not saying that it is okay to give breastfeeding mums any slack because they do not deserve it either but I believe that it is society’s fault for putting so much pressure on formula feeding mums.
The core of this will always come back to breast is best and yes factually breast is best. It is what our bodies are supposed to do. However, it is not always that simple. That is why there is this amazing alternative – formula! So yes for the facts side of things breast is best but for a happy, healthy, fed baby and a happy and sane mother – FED IS BEST! At the end of the day when our children are all five and at school, I can guarantee you won’t be able to tell what child was breastfed and what child was bottle-fed. They will both grow up healthy and live their lives.
Basically, what I am trying to get across here is no matter your situation – you are a good mum. We all need to learn how to share our opinions nicely. We all need to support each other whether we breastfeed or bottle-feed. Everyone’s journey is completely different! As I’ve heard a few people say this week on social media – we need to use world breastfeeding week as a time to share our stories to let mothers know they aren’t alone, to share our advice when things were not happening how it should, to educate one another with tips and tricks. We all need to hear the real stories of breastfeeding – not how beautiful and amazing it will be and how easily and naturally it will come because truth is, it may not be like that.
So please ladies, can we join together and support each other. No one should be made to feel like a bad mum because of her choices. At the end of the day, the one thing we are all trying to accomplish is to bring up our children to lead an amazing healthy life. No matter how we get there, we will. Let’s use world breastfeeding week for what it is intended to be – a week to share our stories, educate each other and support each other.
I really hope no one has taken this the wrong way. I am on both teams and understand both sides! However at the end of the day a healthy you, a healthy baby and a fed baby is best! No matter what anyone says that is truly all that matters. Hope you all enjoyed this post and come back next Sunday to hear some more yarns about something mum!